December 21, 2011 Subject:
Written in the early 1800's Caleb Bingham's "Columbian Orator" is a compilation of addresses by the likes of Cicero, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, etc. designed for young boys of the era to practice oratory (it also gives some interesting 19th Century advice on capturing an audience). The addresses also center around the theme of freedom and the brotherhood of humanity.
It is said that Abraham Lincoln read this book as a child. But perhaps the most famous contribution of this book to American history is that a young slave named Frederick Douglass purchased this as his first book. A play in this book entitled "Dialogue Between a Master and A Slave" (where the slave has a battle of wits with his master who ends up freeing him) inspired Douglass to understand that he could fight for freedom with his MIND, thus leading to his career as a freedom fighter to end Americna slavery.
I have often used this story (that is mentioned in David Blight's introductory notes and in Douglass' various bios) to inspire young people to use the power of their minds. This wisdom for the ages will inspire you also. Take a look at what made great minds like Lincoln and Frederick Douglass tick.